KARACHI, (SANA): The death toll from a fire that swept through a garment factory in Karachi has climbed to 289, officials said on Wednesday. Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar, Provincial Minister for Industry Rauf Siddiqui, Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and other officials visited the incident place and monitored the rescue activities.
Karachi Police Chief Iqbal Mahmood also said rescue teams were still trying to gain access to parts of the factory, which caught fire late on Tuesday, and the death toll could rise.
Commissioner Roshan Ali Sheikh has also confirmed the death of 289 workers, women among them, in the deadly fire.
Flames raced through a garment factory in the teeming commercial capital of Karachi, killing 289 people. Weeping relatives in hospitals and morgues heaped criticism on the deeply unpopular government.
According to reports, 88 dead bodies were brought to Civil Hospital, 77 to Jinnah and 95 were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. Thirty-five dead bodies were handed over to their relatives.
“People started screaming for their lives,” said Mohammad Asif, 20. “Everyone came to the window. I jumped from the third floor.” In the eastern city of Lahore, a fire raged in a shoe factory, killing at least 25 people.
Critics say Pakistan’s corrupt and ineffective government has failed to tackle the country’s problems. The country is racked by a Taliban insurgency, widespread poverty, spiraling crime and daily power cuts.
“The owners were more concerned with safeguarding the garments in the factory than the workers,” said garment factory employee Mohammad Pervez, holding up a photograph of his cousin, who is also a worker there and is missing.
“If there were no metal grilles on the windows a lot of people would have been saved. The factory was overflowing with garments and fabrics. Whoever complained was fired.”
At a Karachi hospital, about 30 bodies burnt beyond recognition were lined up at a morgue.
“There is no space left here. It’s full,” said ambulance worker Wasif Ali. “They keep coming.”
Senior Superintendent of Police Amir Farooqi told media that police were raiding buildings in different parts of Karachi to search for the factory owners.
Farooqi said 35 people were injured in the garment factory fire and bodies were still being recovered from the facility, which employed about 450 people.
“We saw our colleagues burning alive, in flames,” said Shabdir Hussain, from his hospital bed. “We could do nothing. We saved our lives by jumping from the roof.” Six members of one family were also included in the deceased persons.
Successive governments have been unable to provide a reliable power supply so factories have to have their own generators, powered by diesel or petrol, if they want to avoid regular, lengthy power cuts.
At least 1,000 workers were present inside the factory at the time of the fire to receive their salaries.
Eyewitnesses tell a horrific tale of what transpired in the factory after the fire broke out. Three of the four doors of the factory were closed and the lights were shut off.
Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah has announced compensation for the families of the victims and those who were injured.
Rs300,000 will be given to the families of the victims while Rs50,000 has been announced for the injured. Interior Minister Rehman Malik directed IG Sindh to investigate the incident and include the name of factory’s owner in the Exit Control List (ECL).http://www.sananews.net/english/death-toll-soars-to-289-in-garment-factory-fire-eruption-in-karachi/
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